I’ve worked in and with a number of finance and insurance organizations for almost three decades now, and at every level I’ve found myself among some very smart people. They’re efficient, they’re knowledgeable and they’re forward-thinking.

All of which is great—or at least it would be, except for one thing.

Which is that many of these great people are all too often required to expend effort on low-grade and low-value document-driven activities for which all that efficiency and knowledge and perspicacity is singularly ill-suited. And the greater the volume of business, the greater proportion of their time has to be spent on these mundane tasks.

Making things better

Automating document processing of this kind is highly desirable. It not only reduces the pressure on valuable people but increases the efficiency of the process and lowers costs at the same time.

All of which is once more great. Or at least it would be, except for yet another thing.

Which is that automated document processing only goes so far. It streamlines an element of the process, but not the process itself. It’s rather like an old signal box: it keeps everything on the right lines but it doesn’t in and of itself know what should be routed where. Which means good people are still needed to oversee the whole operation and pull the levers.

Making them better still

What’s needed—what’s really needed—is document processing that is not only automated but intelligent. Cognitive document processing (CDP), as it’s termed, not only digitizes documents but can read and interpret them at speed and with elasticity. It then channels them and any associated data to appropriate downstream business processes. And because it employs artificial intelligence it continuously improves and gets smarter as the volume increases.

The benefits are many. Productivity is significantly increased: accuracy is enhanced, errors are reduced, throughput rises and data that hitherto was inaccessible is unleashed. Costs are reduced by up to 60%. Regulatory compliance is increased and what’s more, it’s easier to demonstrate due diligence in this regard. The process is scalable too: the insurance sector can experience seasonal peaks in certain types of business, and CDP can take such changes in volume in its stride.

But the greatest human benefit is the effect CDP can have on all those good people I mentioned. At last, they’re liberated from drudgery. Instead, the system cranks the handle on the bulk of regular document output, identifies those exceptions it can’t address and assigns them to these people—people who are smart and who know what to do.

Making the difference

Of course, this approach is horizontal in its potential applications: the benefits of CDP can be brought to many sectors and industries. But it’s perhaps no surprise that at Capgemini we’re seeing significant take-up among people in finance and insurance in particular, where documentation is such an intrinsic part of daily activities.

It’s also unsurprising that, as with any good tool, CDP is at its best in the hands of people who know how to use it. Working closely with our smart clients and partners like Heavywater we’ve fine-tuned the application of the technology and have embedded long years of shared experience in its fund of knowledge. We help them to develop it as a separate project, conforming to general BPO principles and embracing people, processes, and technology. Finally, we see it not just in terms of the benefits this project can bring but as part of something bigger, as an element in enterprise-wide digital transformation in which so many major organizations are now engaged.

I know I’m not alone in recognizing and applauding the talent, knowledge and enthusiasm of people in finance and insurance. If you too work in or with organizations in this sector you’ll know it too. That’s why I think CDP is so important. It’s a great instance of the way technology can not only reshape the enterprise and the processes conducted within it but also make a significant difference to people.

It’s not just businesses that can realize their own potential. People can do the same.